Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Say what I want

When I was little and visited my grandparents' house at Carolina Beach, my grandmother made great pancakes. For some reason, I never wanted to say the word "pancakes" and would always tell my grandmother, "Say what I want." And she would say, "Pancakes?" And I would say yes.

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend from church. We were talking about the minister's sermons and what people want to hear from him. The conversation went around and around.

"What do you want him to talk about?" my friend asked.

"I think people like to hear about forgiveness," I said.

"He has talked about forgiveness alot," my friend answered.

"Maybe he should listen to what people are talking to him about and talk about that on Sundays."

"He's going to have to find his own way," my friend wisely said.

Finally, I sighed and looked up at the ceiling: "It's like I'm saying to him, 'Tell me what I want so you can give it to me.'"

My friend laughed.

I think this is how some of us approach church because we're not sure what it is we want. We yearn, but can't put our finger on what's going to satisfy the yearning. We expect the minister to give us sustenance to satisfy our cravings that can never be named much less satisfied.

It's a lot of pressure on the minister, trying to guess what we need. I think my friend was right. He needs to speak from his dark places, from his yearnings, from his shortcomings. That's where he'll find his passion for teaching us lessons and where we'll find resonance.

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